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Top 10 iPhone apps of April 2011

Top 10 iPhone apps of April 2011

April was a killer month on the iPhone if you love action games, with a title to either slay or beat up just about anything that moves. It was also a bumper month for puzzle solving and some excellent time-passers, which is why we’re a bit late with this feature (sorry). Hope you like ‘em as much as we did.

1. World of Goo

World of Goo banner

World of Goo, for those who’ve forgotten, is a critically acclaimed physics-based puzzle game that originally launched for the Nintendo Wii and the desktop and then landed on the iPad. Now, three long years after its release on the big screen, the Goo Balls have finally made their way on the iPhone.

The basic premise of the game is that the world is full of semi-sentient, icky but cutesy creatures called Goo Balls, who have been living underground undisturbed until the World of Goo Corporation arrived with pipes to suck the Goo Balls out to process them into ‘beauty products’.

Luckily, some of the Goo Balls escape and your objective is to help them get as far away possible to start their lives anew. The story is told though beautifully rendered cut scenes and is an emotional rollercoaster that makes you truly feel for the Goo Balls’ plight.

The real fun, though, is in the gameplay which is some of the most innovative we’ve played in years. You collect Goo Balls and drag them across the screen to form complex structures such as bridges and towers against the force of gravity to help the globs escape. Along the way, you’ll discover new species of Goo with different properties that add extra depth to the challenge.

If you’ve already played the title on other platforms, it’s still worth picking up to relive on the move. And if you have yet to experience it, we can’t recommend it enough.

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2. Vimeo

Vimeo iPhone app

Vimeo is one of the most popular video sharing services out there - other than YouTube, of course. What separates it from the latter is that Vimeo only allows user-created videos with a greater emphasis on the quality over quantity. That means none of the mind-scarring junk or spam you might come across on YouTube while sifting though those funny feline compilations.

This no-nonsense approach has meant that Vimeo has become a popular destination for both budding and serious moviemakers alike to upload indie, homemade movies and documentaries. The official iPhone app gives you access to all these and then some.

As well the ability to browse the entire Vimeo collection on the go, it also comes with built-in video recording and editing skills such as the ability to capture video with focus control and grid alignment. And you can combine, edit and trim your clips, add transition effects, titles and effects, plus music and recordings with adjustable volume levels, too. Then once you're finally done, save your work or upload directly to Vimeo.

You can even pause and resume uploads, replace files you’ve already uploaded with raw or higher quality footage, add clips to your groups, channels and albums, or share them with the world via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, email, or SMS.

YouTube isn’t going anywhere. But you should still give Vimeo a try if you’re looking for content slightly more leftfield or classy.

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3. ZombieSmash

ZombieSmash iPhone

ZombieSmash is a brilliant tower defense game with a twist.

That is, where in a typical tower defense title you have to strategically place various defensive structures and weapons to obliterate waves and waves of enemies, in ZombieSmash you take a more hands on approach. Literally. That means using your finger, to pick off zombies one by one, by flicking them up in the air and tossing them to the ground and repeating until they are nothing but meat and tubes.

Sound sickening? Well, to some extent it is. But thanks to the appropriately named SplatterEngine that realistically renders the game's cartoon blood and ragdoll physics to make the flying limbs and guts look all the more brutal, it's also incredibly satisfying.

Fear not, you’ll also have an arsenal of 30 special weapons and upgrades to aid you in obliterating the undead, such as asteroids, wrecking balls, liquid nitrogen and a giant, rolling boulder for maximum carnage.

There are three game modes to sink your teeth into. First up is the campaign mode, which challenges players to survive 31 days of zombie hordes and 30 nights in a separate campaign. Next is the Endless Siege mode where you have to survive for as long as possible in the face of an endless wave of zombies. Finally, there's the Sandbox mode, which equips you with all kinds of tools to unleash a world of pain on the zombies.

Game Center support means there are also achievements to unlock and leaderboards to climb, giving more incentive to slaughter zombies than ever before.

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4. Streets of Rage 2

Streets of Rage 2 iPhone

Streets of Rage 2 is the sequel to one of the side-scrolling beat ‘em greats, back when arcades were still commonplace and smoking in a public place was still allowed.

To many gamers of that generation, which now seems consigned to the mists of time, fighting games were the most exciting and Streets of Rage was one of the pioneers of the genre alongside titles such as Final Fight and Double Dragon.

Now iFans who never got around to experience the golden age of coin-op brawlin’ can do so right on their iPhones.

The story takes place a year after the events of the first Streets of Rage, which saw Adam, Axel and Blaze defeat crime lord Mr. X and his goons. The trio meet one night to reminisce about old times, but it all goes crazy the next morning when news arrives that Adam has been kidnapped by - wait for it - Mr. X. Turns out he's still alive and kicking and is beginning to take over the city once more.

It’s up to Axel and Blaze to rescue their friend. Only this time they are joined by Adam’s younger brother Skate and the newly recruited Max.

As far as gameplay is concerned, it remains virtually unchanged from the first title - aside from refinements to special attacks and, of course, touch-friendly controls designed specially for the iPhone.

If you’re shopping for a great beat ‘em up, be sure to pick this up without delay.

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5. Bug Village

Bug Village iPhone

Bug Village is a free-to-download title that puts you in charge of a village full of bugs. Duh!

Now before you entomophobes (that’s people who fear insects) run away screaming, the bugs in Bug Village is a far cry from the creepy crawlies that lurk around in your back garden.

The denizens of this tightly knit colony, which consist of ants, bees and ladybugs, are cute, productive and need your nurturing to grow. They also need protection to survive attacks from some nasty bugs that pop up once for a quick meal, like ant lions. Those bugs you can still hate.

The gameplay is immersive and cerebral. You collect resources, such as water and food, and cookies to feed the village, and various materials such as wood and leaves to build huts for bugs to live in. You can also plant flowers to decorate the village and watch as the ants and bees work together in harmony.

Coins and acorns serve as the in-game currency, which can be earned through special offers, or purchased using real money within the app if you’re really dedicated.

If you’re looking for a macho title with big guns and explosions, which you probably aren’t if you’ve read this far, you'd best move on. But if you want a fun title that gives you the option to relax and explore your softer, mother nature-loving side, then most certainly give this a try.

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6. Pocket Legends

Pocket Legends iPhone

Can’t stand bugs or pretty flowers? Then perhaps you’ll enjoy slaying monsters and battling the undead, coz that’s what you’ll find in Pocket Legends, an amazing MMORPG (massively-multiplayer online role-playing game) that allows you join players around the globe to hunt down all kinds of nasty creatures roaming in a brilliantly realised online world.

You start off by creating a character, which you can choose from three different classes: warrior, archer and mage, and customise with armour, weapons and special items that boost their special abilities.

From there you can visit the town to meet other players, start a quest with players of similar skill level or if you’re particularly brave or naïve, venture out into the unknown on your own.

Killing enemies gives you loot, which can be used to upgrade your items for better ones. The game itself is completely free to download and play but if you’re really hooked, which you will be, you can also purchase additional areas to visit for a bigger challenge.

If you like MMOs, then you should be playing this already. Even if you don’t or have never played one, Pocket Legends is a great place to start.

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7. Coin Drop!

Coin Drop! iPhone

Coin Drop! should be instantly familiar to you if you’ve played games like Peggle. Or even regular pinball-styled titles where you drop or shoot some circular thingamajig (usually a ball) and watch as it bounces onto various pins and contraptions to score points.

The idea is similar here. You tap the screen to drop a coin (hence the name) onto the screen. The more objects it hits, especially if it collides with a combination of enemies, which are these blue bad coins that have kidnapped a ‘girl’ coin, the more points you rack up. Obviously being the concerned Good Samaritan that you are, your goal is to clear all the stages of the bad coins and rescue girl coin.

There are 60 levels in total, spread across four different worlds each with its own theme and environment. Each world also has its own dedicated soundtrack, which it’s worth mentioning, is excellent. In fact, the entire production quality of this title is astounding considering it costs just a shade more than a bag of crisps.

The graphics are vibrant and colourful, and look absolutely gorgeous thanks to Retina display support. The physics and collision system is top-notch and the resulting on-screen effects are very satisfying.

There’s really nothing to fault this game other than perhaps it’s not particularly original. What it does offer in spades is easy to pick gameplay that is hugely enjoyable in short bursts. So if you need something relaxing and fun to pass the time, definitely check it out.

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8. Percepto

Percepto iPhone

Percepto is a clever little game that requires you to solve puzzles using more than one perspective.

You play as Bruce or Amy, the male and female characters of the game that you can select at the start. The goal is to help your chosen character escape via a door in each level using the fewest moves and in the fastest time possible.

To move, you simply swipe to drag your character. But as you progress through the levels, you’ll come up against numerous obstacles blocking your way. And that’s where the mind-bending, puzzle-solving fun begins.

When you’re stuck and need take a better look at your surroundings, you can double tap to go into a 3D perspective. You can then rotate the level to find the best route to get to the door, which itself can be hidden, then double tap to return to 2D view and make your escape. Later levels include additional structures you'll need to surmount to reach your objective, such as bordered blocks, phasing glass, stairs and more.

There are 55 levels in total, spread across six buildings, each with a different theme and a smooth learning curve that’s suitable for players of all skill levels.

If you played Crush on the PlayStation Portable or Super Paper Mario on the Wii, you’ll be instantly familiar with the concept. It’s a ton of fun and excellent cerebral effort from a one-man production. Go grab it right away.

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9. Order & Chaos Online

Order & Chaos iPhone

April was a great month for MMO lovers on the iPhone. As well as the aforementioned (and excellent) Pocket Legends, another massively impressive MMORPG also launched to emulate the extraordinary success of the genre on the small screen. It’s called Order & Chaos.

Like Pocket Legends, Order & Chaos plays in real-time in a massive fantasy world. What makes it stand out is its superior graphics and incredible depth, and perhaps even its similarities to the MMO phenomenon that is World of Warcraft.

Developed by Gameloft, a studio that has built its reputation on creating some very high-quality, albeit ‘inspired’, franchises for the iDevices, Order & Chaos offers players the chance to explore a vast fantasy realm populated by thousands of players around the world.

Like most MMORPGs, you can choose a race for your character. Here you have the option to play as a Human or an Elf, who fight for Order, or as an Orc or Undead, who fight for Chaos. And you can create up to four characters if you want to simultaneously enjoy all four races, all of which can also be customised with dozens of appearance options. Plus there are over 1000 skills to learn and 2000 articles of equipment to find too.

Once you're ready, you can go out to meet and befriend other players, trade items with them and communicate. You can also talk and interact with hundreds of non-player characters in the world and tackle more than 500 quests.

The gameplay is superb and easy to get to grips with even if you have no prior experience in playing MMOs, thanks to simple controls and a clean, easy to understand UI.

Although it’s not free to download like Pocket Legends, Gameloft is offering players three months’ free subscription at their first log in. If you like it enough, you can then renew your membership for a small fee, which we reckon, is totally worth it if you’re a fan of the genre.

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10. Coconut Dodge

Coconut Dodge iPhone

Coconut Dodge is a simple but incredibly addictive game that involves, well, dodging coconuts of course.

You play as Clawrence the crab, a snappy little crustacean who’s having a bit of a hard time avoiding the coconuts that are constantly falling around him. For some reason, the sky is also raining precious stones and Clawrence can’t get enough of them.

And that’s where you come in. Your mission is to help Clawrence dodge through 30 tropical levels with challenging mazes of coconuts, all the while satisfying his insatiable taste for gold nuggets, diamonds, rubies and various other bonus treasures.

Gameplay is simply a matter of moving our hero sideways, but nonetheless requires quick timing and rhythm.

There are two difficulty modes, casual for those just looking to pass the time, or hardcore, for players with blindingly fast reflexes.

Not quick enough? Get some practice in the Maze Master mode to learn the rhythm and precision you need to snap and clap your way to gold and glory in the global leaderboards.

If you enjoyed timeless classics such as Tetris and Space Invaders, you’ll love this gem of a title.

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